Last week Gary thoughtfully wrote a squib (below) urging people to visit young Thomas Mills’ new website PoliticsNC – so I did. And got a surprise. Young Mr. Mills was – genially – taking me to task for writing how the Democrats passing voter laws (over the years) to elect Democrats, had led to Republicans (once they had power) doing the same thing to elect Republicans, which, taken altogether, was a pretty good example of how one sin begets another – the political version of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth with no remorse anywhere.
Mr. Mills didn’t mind me criticizing my own party but he didn’t particularly like me criticizing his party – the way he sees it, Republicans have done all the sinning while Democrats have done none at all. He made his case this way: Republicans are trying to pass laws that discourage people from voting while the Democrats, back in the days when they had power, had pursued a loftier goal: They’d passed laws to encourage more people to vote. Which sounds fine. Except that argument collapses in the face of one fact: Right in the middle of their lofty crusade to get more people to the polls, Democrats passed a law to make it more difficult for people to cast absentee ballots – because Republicans were more likely to vote that way than Democrats.
There’re other examples of Democrats changing laws to elect Democrats – like in the 1980 election: Locked in a tight race for US Senate, Democrats decided if a voter marked the block next to Republican John East’s name in the race for U.S. Senate, but, then, also marked the Straight Democratic ticket block on the same ballot, they wouldn’t throw the ballot out as spoiled – they’d count it as a vote for Democratic Senate candidate Robert Morgan.
Toward the end of his blog, Mr. Mills wrote, “Carter should know politics is about perception and the perception here is…” – well, the perception here is Republicans are “old, bigoted white guys.”
I don’t know of an idea that has done more harm in politics than the thought, Perception is what matters…it’s like saying, If I lie, cheat and steal, it doesn’t matter so long as people think I’m a walking breathing paragon of moral rectitude.
There’s also an easy way to prove it’s a fiction to say ‘perception’ has the power to save a politician from the older truth that bad deeds breed consequences – just look at what’s happening in front of our eyes (over voter laws): Democrats sowed the wind and now they’re reaping the whirlwind and, in time, Republicans may reap an indigestible harvest as well.